Opinion divided on Yahoo's VoIP aims
Will they, or won't they?
That's the question on the minds of the VoIP editorial sphere, and the speculation in this case has Yahoo at its epicenter.
Yahoo, you may remember, was poised to enter the VoIP fray, according to Safa Rashtchy, a Piper Jaffray analyst. Rashtchy's speculative quotes propelled ripples throughout the tech trades and the blogosphere.
Then Yahoo denied it (days later), and there was a great silence, like a million keyboards being unplugged all at once. Then there was the weekend, and now speculation begins anew.
Bryan Richard, editor at VOIP Magazine (full disclosure: our fearless publisher Ted Shelton writes a column for Mr. Richard), who opines today that there will be no new VoIP providers this year.
The reason? Look no further than the heavy-handed tactics of the FCC on the E-911 front. Why would Yahoo want that kind of headache, Richard writes.
"Yahoo!’s Dialpad purchase was in the [works] prior to the E911 smackdown and while there may be some Dialpad technology in the recent Messenger release, I would imagine that acquisition is gathering a bit of dust," he writes.
ZDNet columnist Russell Shaw has a different take. Yahoo simply must be up to something on the VoIP front, and he imagines that the company's research labs are burning midnight oil to figure out exactly what.
Our two cents: Shaw and Richard are probably both right.
First, as Shaw notes Yahoo already has a toe on the water with respect to the VoIP capabilities already built into its Messenger service; Yahoo's Call Computer service lets Yahoo Messenger users call others who are similarly equipped, and also allows its users to place calls via Net2Phone.
With respect to market timing, Yahoo's under no obligation to enter this year or the next. It's all about delivering shareholder value -- on a silver platter if possible.
The smart thing for Yahoo to do would be to await the E911 thing to work itself out, and let Skype, Vonage, Nuvio, et al. take the heat, and pay the lawyers. Then acquire one of them. Clearly, as in the Dialpad acquisition, Yahoo has no compunctions about innovating through acquisition. It's what the big boys do.